Trump Unleashes Trade War with Latest Tariffs on China
WASHINGTON: Punishing US tariffs on Chinese imports took effect early Friday (Jul 6), marking the start of President Donald Trump's trade war with the largest US trading partner and intensifying the anxieties of global industry.
Beijing was expected to immediately retaliate dollar-for-dollar with its own counter-tariffs after Trump imposed 25 per cent duties on about US$34 billion in Chinese machinery, electronics and high-tech equipment including autos, computer hard drives and LEDs.
The tariffs' arrival also made real a campaign-trail pledge for Trump, who has fulminated for years against what he describes as Beijing's underhanded economic treatment of the United States.
US officials accuse China of building that country's emerging industrial dominance by stealing the "crown jewels" of American technological know-how through cyber-theft, forced transfers of intellectual property, state-sponsored corporate acquisitions and other alleged practices.
And they say the current US economic strength, as well as America's soaring trade deficit in goods, means the world's largest economy can outlast its rivals in the current tit-for-tat battle, presenting Washington with a rare window of opportunity to settle old scores.
The US trade deficit in goods with China ballooned to a record US$375.2 billion last year, further stoking Trump's ire.
But it remained to be seen whether the American president would carry out recent threats to respond to any Chinese retaliation with maximum pressure - raising US duties on Chinese goods in increments of US$200 billion until virtually all the goods America buys from its largest trading partner are subject to duties.
But, aboard Air Force One on Thursday en route to Montana, Trump erased any hope of an about-face. He said Washington stood ready to slap duties on hundreds of billions more in Chinese imports once Friday's tariffs took effect.
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